Some weeks ago, I already did a Muckman interview with the film’s director Brett Piper. However, since this is a collaborative effort, I was really curious to find out what Brett’s partner-in-crime, co-writer and producer Mark Polonia, had to say about the making of Muckman as well and so I’ve send him a couple of questions which he answered right away. So, fellas, I hope you’re ready for another trip into the swamp…
BLOODY DISGUSTING: Hi Mark, you’re the co-writer and producer of the soon-to-be-released swamp monster flick MUCKMAN which has been directed by your buddy Brett Piper. It’s not the first time that the two of you worked on a movie together, however, if I’m not mistaken, it’s the first time that you’ve shared creative duties in equal shares. Please let us know how it came to this cooperation and what your and Brett’s individual tasks were during the shoot.
MARK POLONIA: “Brett and I have both worked together on various projects, in various capacities, so we both know how each other works. As far as creative duties, Brett technically directed, made the monster suits and effects, and edited the film, and supplied half the cast. I secured locations, arranged the production team and equipment, brought in the D.P. and supplied half the cast. My wife was our caterer and my son crewed. On set, obviously, we both wore many hats and would often jump roles, so it was never an issue. We did what needed done. There was never a time where we argued or caused a scene because of control or that nonsense. We all had a job to do and we did it. Brett’s worked with a lot of people, and I’m sure he found collaborating with me an easy experience, and vice-versa.”
BD: You both wrote the script together. How exactly did that happen? Did both of you come up with individual screenplays which were then combined into one script or did you meet for mutual writing sessions?
MP: “We initially sat down and wrote a detailed outline, and then both of us wrote our own version of the script. We then took what we liked about both versions and created a final script. It was an interesting way to try it. I think it was successful. When I watch it I can see where his story stops and mine jumps in, and then goes back to his. We have very distinct writing styles, so we had to really massage it into a cohesive whole.”
BD: Once the script was ready, what other steps had to be taken until you could finally start shooting MUCKMAN.
MP: “We came with the idea to shoot a film together in April of that year. Brett was actually at my house for Easter dinner. I believe we started shooting in May, so we both hustled to pull it all together. Locations had to be secured, actors had to be called in, the suit had to be made. What a fantastic job Brett did on that costume for the creature! Like any movie, there’s a mountain of planning that needed to be done, but it all came together and there we were, on the first day of shooting, against the clock, making another film.”
BD: The film’s cast consists of a lot of Piper and Polonia regulars such as A.J. Khan (SHOCK-O-RAMA), Alison Whitney (BACTERIUM), Ken Van Zant (SPLATTER BEACH) or Danielle Donahue (HALLOWEENIGHT) as well as some new talent such as Brett’s nephew Ian Piper and his roommate Jared Warren. How did all of these guys end up in your movie and what can you say about the performances they gave in MUCKMAN?
MP: “Because of the low-budget nature of the movie, we cast people we worked with before, because you get a reliable performance from a competent actor. Everyone did a fantastic job considering the arduous conditions and schedule we had. Alison and Anju were great, Danielle did a superb job. Ken and Steve and Bob all were stand-out. Everyone gave it their best and had fun and it shows. Brett’s nephew and friend also did a great job, considering they’d never acted in a movie and were pulled in on the second week of shooting after two of our leads bailed out on us, but that’s a whole different story that you can hear on the dvd commentary!”
BD: Besides writing the script and producing the movie, you also played the role of one of the rednecks. You’ve already worked behind as well as infront of the camera on your first movie SPLATTER FARM (which was shot in 1986) and kept doing it until today. Is it just something you do whenever you’re in need of another actor or do you actually enjoy acting just as much as filmmaking?
MP: “I act in films when the need arises. I don’t profess to be a solid performer, and I have a certain range, that if cast in that, can do a passable job. I played one of the inbred cousins of a character, so I guess you can say I was within my scope and abilities!!!! My wife would always joking say that I was really playing myself in the character! Do I enjoy it? Well, to a degree yes. It’s different being in front of the camera than it is behind it. Being an actor is a challenging job.”
BD: You’ve also shot some cool behind-the-scenes footage which gives some good insight into the making of a low budget horror film and would make a nice little extra on the upcoming DVD. Since you and Brett just signed a deal with Chemical Burn Entertainment, can you already tell us a bit more about Muckie’s first trip to DVD land? What can we expect when we put the MUCKMAN disc in the player?
MP: “The dvd release of MUCKMAN, by Chemical Burn Entertainment, scheduled for a late summer release, will have a commentary, making of feature with some good behind the scenes footage, a photo gallery and trailers. The commentary has Brett, I, Steve Diasparra, and my son giving colorful, if not telling information about the making of the film. I know folks will find it an enjoyable time.”
BD: Not long ago, MUCKMAN got selected by the 15th Weekend Of Fear festival in Erlangen/Germany. What does it mean to you that your film is shown overseas and what can the German horrorfilm fans expect once Muckie has arrived at the other side of the pond?
MP: “I have never had a film play to a foreign audience. When Brett told me it was going to be in a German horror film festival I was really excited. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out. My initial fear was the language barrier, but I suppose most of the audience will understand English. I hope they are entertained for 80 minutes, that’s the best reaction you could ever get.”
BD: As awesome as MUCKMAN is, there is also a rather tragic side to it, because as far as I know, it’s the first movie you’ve done entirely without the aid and assistance of your twin brother John, who sadly passed away in early 2008. Did you ever think of quitting filmmaking as a whole after John left? And what was it that made you decide to keep on making movies nevertheless?
MP: “HALLOWEEN NIGHT is actually the first movie produced without my brother John. The loss of anyone close to you leaves a hole that can never be filled. HALLOWEEN NIGHT was dedicated to him, and his absence from our films and life, will obviously leave a sad impact. Still, I know he would want the movies to be made, so you forge ahead, knowing that a part of him and his film sensibilities are still with us in spirit. It sounds weird, but it’s true.”
BD: However, you’re still not the only Polonia out there making crazy films, cause your son Anthony is totally into shooting movies as well. Despite his young age, he’s not only already made a couple of short films, but also taken part in the MUCKMAN audio commentary which you and Brett recorded. So what do you think, when will we get to see Anthony’s first feature film?
MP: “Anthony’s role in MUCKMAN was pivotal. He did so many things that made the production move forward, even when there was a day or two it ground to a halt due to creative differences with the two actors who left the film. Without him, it would have taken twice as long to make. When we needed something, he was there, ready and willing. That kind of help is invaluable, especially when you’re shorthanded to start with. He was also the only actor too get into the dirtiest water we could find for several shots of the creature slogging through a swamp. He begged us to let him go under water in the slop with the suit, but I wouldn’t allow it. There were too many danger factors involved. He still won’t let us forget that!”
BD: And what about you? Are you already working on your next project or are you still recovering from getting MUCKMAN in the can?
MP: “I have several personal projects I am getting off the ground, possibly an 80’s style action movie and another horror film, sci-fi hybrid. Brett is also prepping a film of his own that I will be heavily involved with, so we’re always busy. MUCKMAN was a killer for numerous reasons, but it’s finished and ready for people to enjoy.”
BD: Well, that’s a wrap, I guess! Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my questions and good luck with your next movie! If there’s anything you’d still like to add, feel free to do so now.
MP: “I’d like to personally thank all the people who supported us and our films over the last 20 years and look forward to making more movies in the next decade.”